Letter to the Editor: Has America’s past time, past its time?

submitted by John Pow III

Baseball. Definition: not interesting; tedious. Synonyms: dull, lifeless, monotonous, mundane, stale, uninteresting. See Also: Boring.

If you have been wise enough to avoid watching any of the 2015 MLB season, I commend you from not subjecting yourself to this most boring form of torture. The onset of the new season has traditionally brought excitement of spring and the 162 game marathon that is the MLB season.

The MLB used to be as American as apple pie, holding a place amongst the most popular of all-American culture. Having attendance fall from nearly 80 million in 2007 to 73 million in 2014, and television ratings falling twenty five percent in same time. The problem which underlies all of the MLB’s problems is the length of the season, and the powers at be unwillingness to take on any change whatsoever.

The MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has feigned interest in adapting with the demands of the modern baseball consumer by adding instant replay and modest efforts at shortening the length of games. Despite his time reduction initiatives last years games averaged two hours and 50 minutes.

Even the most avid baseball fans can’t sit through 162 games that last nearly three hours each. This year’s initiative included rules banning the batter from leaving the box and limiting the number of warmup pitches have resulted in a slight decrease in game length; although they are still far from having a reasonable game length.

The solution that needs to be implemented is either a shortening of the schedule or the number of innings in a game. This would solution would never be implemented as it would it cost the MLB significant advertising revenue. The MLB’s proven track record of unwillingness to add changes to the game is yet another reason as to why this will never happen.

The solution to this lagging product would be to introduce a points based standings system. This idea was first conceived by Boston Globe sports writer Tony Massarotti, and places heavy emphasis on winning the series of games they play with a team.

Teams play three games in a row with the winner of each game being awarded one point towards their standings. Which ever team “wins the series” by winning two of the three games earning an additional point. With teams being rewarded for winning the series it places emphasis on those sleepy midsummer games that have historically meant close to nothing.

Games having postseason implications in the months of June and July coaches will be forced to build winning lineups, as opposed to the midseason “b” teams so frequently utilized by teams not caring about winning the game. By making nearly every game in the season matter fans would be more willing to show up to those games, rather than the few hundred fans who show up to Tampa Bay Rays games when the Yankees or Red Sox are not in town. The most difficult piece of this change would be making all series three games, but a switch of this magnitude is far from the realm of Manfred’s willingness to change.

The elitist hierarchy that is the MLB are seemingly blind to the mounting evidence that America’s past time is becoming an afterthought of the average American. While other major North American sports leagues such as the NFL, NHL, and NBA are experiencing exponential growth, the MLB is faltering.

The up and coming Major League Soccer is challenging the MLB during the same months and has been busy signing huge television deals with ESPN. With the MLS being broadcast on ESPN in a Sunday night prime time slot, all signs a pointing up for the MLS. The MLB is is on track to eventually be overtaken by the MLS, thus losing its title as “America’s Pastime.”

What has become of our beloved game? Is Rob Manfred ignorant of the impending threat that is the MLS? With the league expanding at a rapid rate, and attendance figures also on the rise it would appear as if the MLS is gaining popularity. The MLB would certainly disagree, but odds are if you are a millennial like my self you have already jumped ship to watch the ever increasing talent in the MLS.


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